Skip Navigation

About OU

History of OU

When OU's first president David Ross Boyd stepped off the train in Norman, Oklahoma, in 1892, he was greeted with a barren expanse of hardpan prairie, no tree in sight. Was he discouraged? Not a bit. His only remark at this sight was "What possibilities!" At the University of Oklahoma, students, faculty and staff have that same spirit: that anything can grow if you have the attitude to make it happen.

Crimson & Cream

Football stadium with crimson and cream stripes

At OU, only one shade of red will do.

Here’s the history of how we found our hues: In 1895, OU’s first female faculty member, Mary J. Overstreet, and OU's fourth president, James Buchanan, served on a committee that selected “crimson” and “corn” (yes, corn) as the university’s official colors.

Alas, local merchants found the “corn” color a little tricky for merchandise. We went with the next best thing: crimson and cream.

Learn More About Our Color Combo

OU Fight Song

fight song

Did you know we’ve got Yale University to thank for the OU Fight Song? 

In 1905, OU history and physiology student Arthur M. Alden wrote the lyrics to the university's "Boomer Sooner," borrowing the tune from Yale's "Boola-Boola" but improvising the words. Later, a bit of the University of North Carolina's "I'm a Tarheel Born" made its way into the song.

And somewhere in the middle, the “Boomer Sooner” battle song was born.

Hear the OU Fight Song

The OU Seal

The University of Oklahoma Seal

OU’s first president, David Ross Boyd, spearheaded the university’s official seal in 1902. A devout Presbyterian, Boyd led a chapel service every morning. In one of his talks he regaled the parishioners with a tale of a man sowing seeds — the basis for OU's seal.

Boyd tasked his first secretary George Bucklin with sketching the design of a sower with his bag of seeds. Above the sower, a Latin motto reads: “Civi et Reipublicae," or “For the Citizens and for the State.”

Explore OU's History


OU Ruf/Nek

These guys are a staple of Sooner football games. You’ll find this all-male spirit squad on the sidelines at Owen Field shooting shotgun blanks into the air and weaving the Sooner Schooner around the field after each Sooner touchdown. 

They’ve always been a little rough around the edges (hence the name), but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a group of men more passionate about OU athletics. The OU RUF/NEKs have been around for more than 100 years, making them America’s oldest male spirit organization.

Read up on the RUF/NEKs